Iowans are being encouraged to do their part to prevent serious damage to underground facilities. The Iowa One Call organization is holding a series of 29 Excavation Safety Awareness Meetings across the state.

The program is free and Iowa One Call spokesperson Ben Booth says it goes beyond simply reminding people to call 8-1-1 before they dig. The meetings, which are geared primarily toward professional excavators and contractors, also cover the requirements of Iowa law related to all excavation in the state.

“Every year, I have people who attend that say ‘I learned something new. We don’t study that everyday,'” Booth said. “They know they’re supposed to call before digging, but in terms of potential liability, responsibilities and actual actions they’re required to do before and during the actual excavation – those are the things that are covered.”

Iowans are required by law to notify the Iowa One Call system at least 48 hours before digging or excavating. The call to 8-1-1 allows officials to locate and mark underground facilities to help avoid both potential injuries and costly accidents. Booth notes companies or individuals who have failed to call 8-1-1 are forced to pay fines and often spend hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to cleanup the mess.

“The most recent one was a tiling incident which pierced an underground pipeline and resulted in the leak of diesel,” Booth said. The diesel ran into several waterways. The 8-1-1 system is financed by nearly 1,500 owners and operators of underground facilities in Iowa.

Booth said the operators are required by Iowa law to join the One Call System. Four of the 29 informational meetings have already been held. The first of the remaining meetings will be held today in Waterloo. The complete list of meeting dates and locations is available online at